by Jason AnkenyOne of the most high-profile projects of the endlessly prolific bassist and producer Bill Laswell, Material pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk, and punk that also incorporated elements of hip-hop and world music well before eithers entrance into the mass cultural consciousness. Formed in 1979, the first Material lineup consisted of Laswell, multi-instrumentalist Michael Beinhorn, and drummer Fred Maher, all three staples of the downtown New York City underground music scene. The group, plus Kramer and a few others backed Gongs Daevid Allen during his New York visit, resulting in the album About Time by New York Gong. After Materials debut LP under their own name, Temporary Music, the groups ranks swelled to include figures ranging from Sonny Sharrock to Henry Threadgill to Fred Frith, additions which yielded 1981s superb Memory Serves. A guest list running the gamut from Nile Rodgers to a then-unknown Whitney Houston distinguished the avant funk of 1982s One Down, the final Material LP before a nearly decade-long hiatus; Laswell finally reassembled the troops in 1989 to record the atmospheric Seven Souls, which spotlighted the spoken word performances of the legendary William S. Burroughs. 1991s The Third Power brought the group back to its soulful roots, with guests including Herbie Hancock, Sly & Robbie, Maceo Parker, and the Jungle Brothers; after 1994s Hallucination Engine, another four-year hiatus preceded the release of the remix collection The Road to the Western Lands. Intonarumori followed in 1999.